Vibrant, high energy, alive, entertaining, great art work, a stalwart on International Drive for a long time. Up until recently, this was the only tapas restaurant in Orlando. Now they are popping up everywhere. Café Tu Tu Tango has held the reins and uphold the standards of dining and entertainment in Orlando for a long distinguished time. With its unique Spanish artist’s loft concept of working artists and flamenco dancers, this restaurant has captured many on a quest to take a breather from the theme parks. There was even a time when it was a must see and dinning destination for all of my out of area friends. Not so much anymore…
The great décor and amazing artwork still adorn the walls. Does any of this actually sell? Take a close look at the price tag. I realize art is pricey, but….maybe I really don’t understand. Great art though. The fancy flamenco dancer is still performing, but it seems like they stop short at half way into the restaurant. Maybe she did not want to come all the way to the cheap seats. Wasn’t there an actual live flamenco guitarist, not just music? I seem to remember so…maybe my memory is going. What happened to the cool sofas in between the bar and the open kitchen? It has been replaced by high top tables. What a shame. I remembered creeping in, either myself or one of my friends, and telling the greeters that we were going to the bar, then stake out the sofas. Then we would throw back and dine for hours with small plate after small plate and bottles of wine. None of that anymore….So what is left, the food.
SOPA de LEON CUP Roasted chicken, Spanish chorizo, garbanzo beans and manchego cheese was cold, tasteless, and flavorless.
SURF and EARTH Pan seared salmon with avocado-black bean salsa and plantain chips; topped with aji sauce and parmesan-manchego frico was nicely cooked salmon pieces, though served cold, salsa was wholesome, but the plantain chips were cold and rock hard, could have chipped a tooth or broken a wisdom teeth. Left all of the chips on the plate and I love plantain chips. Got the surf part but where was the earth? Am I missing something here again?
FLAME GRILLED BABY LAMB CHOPS With Greek orzo pasta salad and balsamic glaze was nice medium rare but cold. Good flavors. Balsamic reduction was molten salt. Pasta was mushy.
TANGO HUMMUS Traditional blend of chickpeas, tahini, olive olive and lemon. I rather the old presentation, on artist painting boards. That was complimentary. But I understand. This is a larger portion and tasted very well, very flavorful and fresh.
ECUADORIAN CEVICHE California corvina and pickled honeydew in soy citrus sauce garnished with popcorn. Nice flavors and textures, stale popcorn, horrible presentation, looks like the dishwasher put this dish together. Disappointed.
GRILLED GAUVA BBQ GLAZED RIBS Malta-guava BBQ sauce and pickled vegetables. Ribs were tender with bold BBQ sauce flavor, but no guava. Where is the guava? Vegetables were nice and crisp.
MACADAMIA CRUSTED MAHI MAHI SKEWERS Cooked a la plancha; with pineapple-jasmine rice and soy-coconut sauce. Little slivers of tasteless mahi mahi dredged in breading. Where were the macadamia nuts? Rice was hard and uncooked. Did not get Jasmine neither pineapple neither coconut. Ugh.
Water served in rocks glass? Hummmm?
UGNI BLANC, Tariquet, France. Dry and fruit forward wine compliments seafood well. Could always find a unique wine here.
GARNACHA, Las Rocas, Spain. Full bodied and spicey, with a full fruit finish.
What happened here? One disappointment after another. It was always bring on the next plate and the next. This was, do we have to withstand another wave. Or maybe we ordered wrong? But so many items not on point? Definitely some issues, okay, a lot of issues with the food.
Service was always playful and joyous. This is to be understood, it is a high energy place with a lot going on. Loud music, loud conversation, loud dancing. But the elements of service should still be adhered to. Whether in an extremely casual restaurant or the finest of finest dining. Not so much here. Water was not refilled. Empty plates were not cleared. Dirty silverware were never removed. Check back on ordered items were too long, the items were already gone. Even though this is a tapas restaurant food auctioning at the table should never be implied or practiced. A smile may go a long way from support team members. Food runners had no clue which table the food was going to much less who ordered it. This was not just our section this was the whole restaurant. It seemed very chaotic and team members seemed very frustrated at each other.
There is hope at the end of the flamenco line. I was told that the menu will change during the summer. Will they also change the chefs? They can’t execute this menu. Will they change their service methods or service team? Lots of frustration there. Tourist and locals who frequent International Drive deserves better. At least there is art and flamenco.